December 19, 2014

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Man pleads not guilty in crash that hurt North Olmsted officer

MEDINA — A 23-year-old Columbia Station man pleaded not guilty Monday in Medina County Common Pleas Court to driving drunk and crashing into a vehicle driven by an off-duty North Olmsted police officer in March.

Dalton Phillips is charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular assault and a count of failure to stop after an accident. If convicted at his July 21 jury trial, he could face three or more years in prison.

According to reports, Phillips was traveling north in a 1992 Dodge Ram pickup just after midnight March 1 on Station Road, north of Grafton Road. He lost control around a curve and went off the east side of the road, then overcorrected and went left of center.

Police said that’s when he crashed head-on into a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt driven by Jack Justice, a 14-year veteran officer who lives in Liverpool Township.

Phillips fled to his home, about a half-mile away, police said.

He submitted to a blood-alcohol test while a patient at Southwest General Hospital in Middleburg Heights that night.

A North Olmsted police dispatcher said Wednesday that Justice has been released from MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where he was flown after the crash. Justice is undergoing rehabilitation and has not yet returned to duty, a dispatcher said.

Phillips is free on bond awaiting trial.